Condo Mania

13 06 2005

Searching for an affordable condo? Join the line.

The desire for a more carefree lifestyle, as well as Jacksonville’s booming population and the ability to buy a home with today’s low interest rates, are converging to create huge demand for low-to mid-priced condominiums in Northeast Florida.

But, some experts in the condo business said several upcoming conversions from apartments should add several hundred more units to the condo market.

Condos are the lowest maintenance type of home to purchase. As such they attract mainly young professionals with busy lives, or empty nesters looking to downsize the living space they must maintain. The condo association — residents who each pay a monthly fee — takes care of the outside maintenance and operates the amenities.

Most condos in the lowest price ranges are older, and are located in older areas with higher density and higher crime.

Mid-priced condos usually are sold out as soon as they open.

Condos come in two types of structures — those designed as condos, and those originally designed as apartments. Most of the newer mid-range condos were converted from apartments and given updated kitchen and baths, tile flooring in all the wet areas, new plumbing and electric, new paint and possibly upgraded appliances.

The outside amenities vary with the complex. Most have a community pool, a clubhouse, a gym and some sort of walking trail. Some have added special features such as a concierge service that will water plants or take care of other chores while the homeowner is away.
Many of the apartment conversions are located near shopping, entertainment and restaurants that appeal to young professionals and empty nesters alike who maintenance-free lifestyle.

Several projects are underway to convert several hundred apartment units in Arlington, Orange Park, Southside and Baymeadows to condos within the next few months. Such conversions are taking place because of low interest rates, which make it possible for some renters to make monthly condo payments that are less than the going rent rate. But, beyond price, important factors in selecting a condo include the commute time to work, the cost, the safety, amenities of the surrounding area and compatibility with the neighbors.

While finding the right condo can be difficult, real estate professionals can help. Realtors can help a client locate the right condo based on a list of preferred criteria.

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